Digital Empire: Top 8 Online Businesses for Growth Potential

One of the benefits of working online for 25 years is the opportunity to see digital businesses grow and expand, while noting how they do so. Any business has empire potential, but some online business models are consistent winners. When you combine proven business models with today’s demand, you have an unbeatable growth strategy to greatly improve your chances of success.

People start online businesses with all kinds of financial goals in mind. They might only want to supplement their income, rather than build a million-dollar business. Others go into it determined to grow it into a digital empire, and/or with a specific exit strategy in mind.

8 Online Businesses for Growth Potential & Profitable Exit

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1. Digital Transformation Expert/Consultant

From AI, to ecommerce, to online marketing, Canadian businesses are scrambling to grasp it all, implement it, and maintain it. If you have exceptional expertise in any part of the digital transformation journey, you can offer your skills to a large market of small to medium size businesses.

For example, there’s a constant demand for expertise in online advertising. You can act as an ad consultant or offer related services. Then, add a ‘stable’ of experts with outsourcing or traditional hiring. The result is an agency with unlimited (yet self controlled) growth potential.

“An ad consultancy business focuses on strategizing Google [or search engines in general] and social media ads, especially on Facebook and Instagram, to help companies reach their target audience effectively,” writes Maleha Afzal for Yahoo Finance.

2. Freelancing

You can turn your solopreneur business into an agency as you become established. Virtual Assistants and freelancers of all kinds can take the agency avenue for growth. It’s easy to grow at your own pace as demand increases.

Further reading: 2024 Highest Paying, In-Demand Freelance Jobs

3. Ecommerce with Dropshipping

The demand for ecommerce from Canadian consumers is well established.

“In 2022, there were over 27 million eCommerce users in Canada, accounting for 75% of the Canadian population,” states the Canada Country Commercial Guide of the International Trade Administration. “This number is expected to grow to 77.6% in 2025. Increased online shoppers means that retail eCommerce sales in Canada continues to climb. According to Statistics Canada, eCommerce retail trade sales in Canada amounted to an all-time high of US$3.82 billion in December 2020, surpassing the boost recorded in May 2020 (US$3.2 billion) due to the coronavirus pandemic lockdown measures. In March 2022, eCommerce sales amounted to approximately US$2.34 billion. It is estimated that retail eCommerce sales will total US$40.3 billion by 2025.”

The sky is the limit when you don’t have to worry about inventory or shipping. Dropshipping is the easiest, fastest and least expensive way to sell products online. You don’t even need inventory and you don’t have to ship anything. Basically, you connect with a wholesale supplier or manufacturer to sell their products direct online. The customer price minus the wholesale cost equals your profit.

Your profit margin may not be high when you buy in small quantities through drop shippers, but you won’t have losses on products that don’t sell and it’s less expensive than fulfilling orders in-house.

Growth can continue indefinitely with dropshipping suppliers, or you can combine it with stocked products as you discover your top sellers. Wholesale inventory is less expensive due to volume purchasing, which will contribute to your growth through better profit margins.

If you’re looking for unique Canadian drop shipping suppliers, consider Spocket. One of the most popular choices for Canadians considering global/overseas dropshipping is Wholesale2B. They have several plans that facilitate selling over 1.5 million products.

Further reading: Wholesale Drop Shipping for Canadian Sellers

4. AI App/Tool Development

If you’re great at innovating and spotting trends, you’ll find a lot of money AI’s wake. Keep your eyes on the ‘Metaverse’ while you’re at it. It’s tough to tell where it’s headed at this point, but it will definitely be part of the future in one way or another.

If your goal is a nice business exit, acquisitions are very popular in this category. For example, Canada’s DarwinAI was acquired by Apple earlier this year.

“DarwinAI is known for developing AI technology that visually inspects components during manufacturing, according to the report,” says PYMNTS. “The startup’s expertise in creating smaller, faster AI systems aligns with Apple’s focus on running AI on devices rather than solely on a cloud-based solution.”

5. Tech Support Services

Online tech support is a necessary part of doing business online. Large companies struggle to keep up, to a point where they simply don’t provide customer service at all or it’s limited to “live” AI chat. Doing business that way simply isn’t sustainable for medium or small businesses, who can’t afford to lose frustrated customers.

If you can build teams (or tools) to serve these companies, you’ll always be in demand and poised for growth. Focus on services that can be done remotely, such as email support. Consider offering complimentary services, like developing a Help or FAQ section for individual companies.

6. Digital Information & Learning Products

Virtually everyone has a high level of expertise on one topic or another. If you’re particularly knowledgeable or good at something, consider teaching others online. You can create & sell information products such as courses, white papers, reports, or ebooks.

Many people prefer to acquire knowledge and skills by taking online courses and you can help them. Growth is only limited by the quality and quantity of what you produce. Online learners have an insatiable thirst for knowledge and self-help that you can continue to quench indefinitely.

You don’t need a lot of new tech skills to create courses or other learning products. You’ll find multiple platforms online that allow you to create them with easy-to-manage tools for publishing, students, classes, course material, and much more.

Learn more in our guide to creating your own online learning products.

7. Website Flipping

Today, it is easier than ever to publish websites and monetize them. This has allowed many entrepreneurs from Canada and around the world to buy (or create) successful websites, fix them up, and then sell them for a profit. It’s so popular, I half expect a house flipping spinoff show to be announced.

Reputable website marketplaces like Flippa and EmpireFlippers are excellent platforms for buying and selling established websites. These marketplaces often provide tutorials to help you learn the best ways to flip websites and how to grow. Make sure you thoroughly investigate any site before purchasing it.

8. Transcription and Repurposed Media

The most effective digital media strategies include repurposing content in multiple formats (audio, video, text). That has created an insatiable demand for those with the skills to repurpose content. There is also a demand for content and marketing copy language translation, due to Canada’s vast diversity. Combining the two could be a lucrative differentiator.

Further reading:

How to Start a Freelance Digital Content Business in Canada

Start an Online Content Translation Business in Canada

Outsourcing

Growth is going to require a bigger team. Luckily, many web-based businesses have virtual staff and contractors at their disposal. Anyone can quickly and easily build virtual teams to support their business.

Andy Schachtel founded Sourcefit and has experienced the many benefits of outsourcing for company growth.  He has been in the strategic outsourcing industry for 23+ years -both on the client side and as a provider- working with Coca-Cola, Toyota, Vodafone, Subaru, Sony, and more.

In a press release, Andy shares the following advantages to outsourcing:

  1. Round-the-Clock Productivity: leverage outsourced teams in different time zones where tasks can be completed around the clock, speeding up project timelines and enhancing service delivery.
  2. Global Talent Pool: outsourcing opens doors to a world of talent, bringing specialized skills and quality to projects.
  3. Cultural Exchange: outsourcing enhances a company’s diversity, enriching the workplace, fostering global awareness as well as gaining insights into different markets and consumer behaviors.
  4. Scalability on Demand: teams can quickly ramp up or scale down, offering agility in response to market demands.
  5. Cost Savings Beyond Payroll: Outsourcing not only cuts labour costs but also saves on office space, utilities, and technology expenses.

Source: Elkordy Global Strategies

Check out freelance marketplaces like Fiverr or Upwork and build your virtual team as you grow.

The Big Exit

When it comes time to sell, Flippa and EmpireFlippers are two of the largest, most reputable website marketplaces.

Do you have any strategic growth tips or advice about growing an online business towards an exit? Please share your experience or questions in the comments below, or join us in the Online Business Canada Facebook group.

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Melody McKinnon
Digital Business & Marketing Manager at Online Business Canada | Website

Melody McKinnon is an internet entrepreneur with 25 years of experience in a wide range of online business models, backed by a formal business education and enhanced by training and mentorship. She has owned or managed both educational and ecommerce websites. Her book, 7 Recession Proof Online Businesses to Start From Home, is available from all major ebook retailers.

Melody has worked with many businesses & brands in a multitude of capacities. She can often be found on CanadianDigitalMedia.com, CanadiansInternet.com, CanadianFamily.net, and AllNaturalPetCare.com, as well as other quality digital publications. Her content has earned reference links from highly-respected websites, magazines and university textbooks.

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Belinda Simpson

Does everyone in the app space create their own apps? Or do they get an idea and hire someone to create it while you run the business side? Does anyone here offer that service and can show us references from happy customers? I heard horror stories of additional costs and delays. I have a few ideas but need a consult first.